THE PROBLEM FRAMED
At 7:16 in the morning on August 2, 2020, under the headline “Working Parenthood is a Terrible Deal Right Now,” BuzzFeed news reporter Vanessa Wong pinpointed the anxiety that has gripped most parents of school-age children in the U.S. “Thanks to COVID,” she wrote, “That fleeting dread most working parents experience now and then about being an utter failure is the new status quo.”
“Society didn’t prepare parents for all the things we must do now,” continues Ms. Wong. “I was prepared for hard, but this feels impossible. …The burdens of parenthood have become too much to shoulder on our own; families need so much more support.”
WHAT’S THE SOLUTION?
Many homeschool parents hire certified teachers, educational facilitators, mentors/coaches or academic tutors to supplement their child’s educational experience. The trend has begun to expand to include parents facing virtual learning conditions during the duration of the COVID-10 pandemic.
Natalie Magnum, CEO of Maryland Teacher Tutors, says current demand for tutors is “five times what it normally is.” Ms. Magnum reports that “Most of our situations we’re in are with parents who still want their children enrolled in a virtual learning public school and they want that teacher to come in, … and make sure the requirements are being met.” (https://www.wbaltv.com/article/information-parents-should-know-about-homeschooling-amid-coronavirus-pandemic/33405505#).
The options for help available to parents working full time from home and doing double duty as teachers are generally focused in the following expert categories:
- licensed/certified teachers;
- education facilitators;
- mentors/coaches; and
- academic tutors.
HOW TO DECIDE WHICH EXPERT IS BEST FOR YOUR CHILD
Licensed or certified teachers have generally obtained a state-mandated teaching license in addition to a bachelor’s or master’s degree. (A teaching certificate and a teaching license are basically regional names for the same authorization.) A licensed teacher is authorized to teach at any school within the state that issued the license. Both “cater to prospective teachers who desire to focus on a specific type, subject or discipline of teaching.” Many college students “obtain a state-approved teaching license as well as completing some form of a specialized teaching certificate.” (https://blog.cuw.edu/what-is-the-difference-between-a-teaching-license-and-a-teaching-certification/)
JOB DESCRIPTION: “Certified (or licensed) teachers generally instruct students at preschools or public elementary, middle, or high schools. Depending on what grade they teach, certified teachers can teach multiple subjects or specialize in a particular subject. They have licensed professionals with bachelor’s [or master’s] degrees who completed teacher education programs in order to qualify for state certification. They may work with a diverse population of students; some may be specifically trained to educate students with physical or mental disabilities.” (https://study.com/certified_teacher.html)
“An education facilitator is one who opens the doors to learning rather than simply providing information to students in a rote format. The trend in educational facilitators as teachers operates on the premise that students learn better when they are guided and allowed to discover knowledge on their own rather than constantly being spoon-fed facts and information. Having a balance of traditional teaching as well as educational facilitators at all levels of education — elementary, secondary, and university — gives students a well-rounded educational experience.” (https://work.chron.com/importance-facilitator-school-university-12591.html#:~:text=An%20educational%20facilitator%20is%20one%20who%20opens%20the,providing%20information%20to%20students%20in%20a%20rote%20format. )
Education Facilitators are often trained at either the elementary school or secondary school levels. Education writer Patti Richards explains the basic job descriptions for each as follows:
Elementary School facilitators – “help create individualized programs for students in content areas such as reading and mathematics. Facilitators help classroom teachers determine appropriate reading levels for each student at the beginning of the school year and provide books, reading assignments, and supplemental materials for each child. As the students progress, their levels change and they are given more challenging materials. Allowing students to progress in reading and math at a pace that challenges them while giving them opportunities for success is the goal.
Secondary School Facilitators – “Teachers who teach at the secondary levels, middle and high school, can use the facilitator method to produce lifelong learners. Using a facilitator approach allows students to pursue things that interest them within each subject area. By giving students the freedom to discover what interests them about the project, facilitators give students the tools they need to research and discover in other areas and subjects.” (https://work.chron.com/importance-facilitator-school-university-12591.html#:~:text=An%20educational%20facilitator%20is%20one%20who%20opens%20the,providing%20information%20to%20students%20in%20a%20rote%20format.)
Coach/Mentor: Similar but Not the Same
Although education mentoring is most often a teacher-to-teacher relationship, experienced mentors can be helpful to parents who are struggling to deal with the added duties of teaching their kids at home. Heather Wolpert-Gawron, a writer for Edutopia.org, offers the following definition of a mentor: “Pair a new teacher with a veteran, and that experienced teacher advises on a regular basis for the first year or two of a teacher’s probationary period. Every new teacher needs a mentor.”(https://www.edutopia.org/article/every-teacher-needs-mentor)
Basically defined, mentoring consists of “a long-term relationship focused on supporting the growth and development of the mentee. The mentor becomes a source of wisdom, teaching, and support. Coaching typically involves a relationship of finite duration, with a focus on improving educational performance in targeted subject areas. Education coaches help correct behaviors that detract from the student’s performance or strengthen those that support stronger performance around a given set of activities. Both mentoring and coaching offer incredibly valuable developmental support. However, one offers high-level guidance for long-term development, while the other helps provide a more immediate improvement in targeted areas.” (https://www.thebalancecareers.com/a-guide-to-understanding-the-role-of-a-mentor-2275318)
A tutor, also called an academic tutor, “is a person who provides assistance or tutelage to one or more people on certain subject areas or skills. The tutor spends a few hours on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis to transfer their expertise on the topic or skill to the student. Tutoring can take place in different settings.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tutor#:~:text=A%20tutor%2C%20formally%20also%20called%20an%20academic%20tutor%2C,student.%20Tutoring%20can%20take%20place%20in%20different%20settings%2C)
GETTING THE HELP YOU NEED
All of the above-listed education experts can help kids do better in school. But they do this in different ways. If you need assistance deciding which direction to go or in finding the help you need, the Global Student Network (GSN) can guide you through the process. GSN has been assisting families in developing home school solutions since 2004 and is available Monday through Friday to help you solve your homeschooling problems and reduce your anxieties related to helping your children succeed in their new virtual environment. Contact: www.globalstudentnetwork.com .